Case Study
Click for print
MANOBI’s ‘Innovative Internet and wireless e-services for the strengthening of Senegalese fisherman artisans’ is a new project started in early 2003.
MANOBI’s ‘Innovative Internet and wireless e-services for the strengthening of Senegalese fisherman artisans’ is a new project started in early 2003. This project uses WAP and SMS technology via cell phones to provide fishermen with up-to-date weather reports and market price information. In addition the fishermen are able to use the interactiveness of the technology to input fish stock information for marketing purposes, and to log their departures and estimated times of return, so that local fishing unions can be alerted if fishing boats fail to return on time. At the time of writing some 57 individual users had registered for the service (41 buyers and 16 artisan fishermen).
This project was initiated in January 2003 by MANOBI, a private telecommunications company, in partnership with three local fishing unions, two telecommunications companies (Alcatel and Sonatel), and the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Consultations were carried out with stakeholders, including the representatives of local fishing unions, at the beginning of 2003, to determine the information needs of artisan fishermen who typically earn 50,000 CFA ($80)/month and 100,000 CFA ($160)/month. It will be evaluated at the end of 2003 by a national steering committee who are interested in the opportunity to scale up the project nationally.

The project aims to support the livelihoods and improve the safety of Senegalese fishermen, by giving them access to up to date market prices, weather reports and other information services via cell phones using WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and SMS (Short Messaging Service). The rationale behind this project is that at present the fishing sector represents 10% of Senegal’s GDP and employs approximately 17% of its working population. Previous information system projects in the fishing sector tended to address the collection of information rather than its dissemination to users. MANOBI have already developed a similar scheme providing a platform of services for small Senegalese farmers growing fruit and vegetables. This service now has over 300 subscribers, and has enabled farmers to secure higher prices for their crops. The positive experience of this project coupled with the needs expressed by the fishermen artisans and interest from the national government encouraged MANOBI to look at carrying out a similar project for Senegal’s fishing community.

The project began with an analysis of the needs of the fishing sector, as well as a financial and technical study for project design and implementation. From this the project was implemented beginning with the extension of the cellular network to the fishing regions. Through the MANOBI multichannel gateway the project was able to produce the information in a form readily available to fishermen. WAP, as the main technology, was chosen because it allowed some interactivity, and would allow fisherman and others to access a central database of information in real time. Finally the fishermen were trained to use the WAP network to retrieve the information they required.
The project has employed two data collectors who record the market prices in three locations in Dakar and Kayar. The information is collected using a ruggedised Psion computer, and is then transmitted by cell phone to a central database and web site. Market prices are updated in real time, enabling fishermen to find out the latest prices immediately they return from the sea. In some cases this has enabled them to land on a different beach in order to secure a higher price from middlemen. So far (by the end of July 2003), some 57 individual users had registered for the service (41 buyers and 16 artisan fishermen). The service requires users to buy a WAP-enabled cell phone (available locally for $90 plus $30 SIM card). Many fishermen already had cell phones (in order to contact their regular buyers). MANOBI estimates it takes around two minutes to access the data services, at an average cost of around 180 CFA (29 cents) a minute.

A major success of the project was to persuade Sonatel to install a cell phone base station near the beach at Kayar in March 2003, which now provides cell phone coverage up to 14km from the shore (allowing fishermen to access the MANOBI data services while at sea). In addition the pilot services have enabled those fishermen with cell phones to log their departures and estimated times of return, so that local fishing unions can be alerted, via their extranet web site and SMS, if fishing boats fail to return on time. Combined with access to real-time weather reports, this has improved safety for artisan fishermen operating from the capital Dakar and the nearby town of Kayar. By recording detailed information about daily catches, the resulting database will also be a useful resource in monitoring fish stocks, which are being over-fished, in the immediate area.

When implementing this project MANOBI experienced a number of delays before pilot data services were first introduced in June 2003. For example, the project had to persuade the government meteorological office to share weather data publicly (previously weather reports were only made available to people within the administration, and for industrial fishing ships). It took time for Sonatel to install the cell phone base station at Kayar, without which the pilot would have been unable to function in that area. When collecting data about local species of fish, it was found that the same species was called different names by different ethnic groups. It also took time to develop simple recognisable graphic icons for the different fish (viewed by cell phone) to enable fishermen with low levels of literacy to use the service.
Although it is early days, the pilot has demonstrated a way of giving artisan fishermen real time access to market data for their products. One of the fishing unions reported how the service enabled them to detect and rescue one of their members and their 8 man crew that had not returned on time. The service also potentially enables fishermen to improve the quality of their products: by alerting all potential buyers (middlemen) as soon as they have landed their catch, the fish can be sold while still very fresh. Typically up to 30 per cent of the catch of artisan fishermen may be wasted while the fishermen wait to find a buyer.

The project has also directly contributed to the extension of the mobile network of Kayar - a fishing town of 20,000 people during the high season.
Key Issues
The project has partnered with a number of organisations from both the corporate and civil sectors. In the initial phase close dialogue was maintained with the fishing communities and unions in order to design the most appropriate information service required. This dialogue also enabled MANOBI to investigate the willingness of future users to pay for the services being developed. The aim of this was to help MANOBI design a tariff structure in line with peoples ability to pay. The fishing unions and telecommunication organisations involved in this project will be responsible for monitoring the project through a steering committee.

Target groups
The project target groups are fishing communities within rural poor areas who use an identified five landing sites. This will include the fishermen and the women involved in fish processing and wholesale.

Capacity building
The project has built the capacity of local artisan fishermen and their unions, by giving them access to weather reports, market data and other services. The project has helped them to present their needs to government, and to share information about fish catches on a transparent basis.
The MANOBI service is accessible via the web, SMS, and by WAP enabled cell phones. While many fishermen already owned cell phones to contact their buyers, some have
had to upgrade to get the WAP capability. ALCATEL has agreed to sell suitable cell phones to fishermen at a discounted rate.
Sonatel has discounted the price of data calls (29 cents/min), compared to 37 cents/minute for voice calls.


AlcatelUS$ 88,420
IDRCUS$ 31,800
Total project budgetUS$615,000

Beneficiary Quotes
  • Artisan fishermen Adama Diop has used MANOBI data services to support his own small business. 'It is a very powerful tool, which is changing the way we are working,' he says. The service allows the local professional organisations to monitor the different boats at sea: 'If we are one hour or two hours late returning, they can send an alert and try to help us.'
  • Pape Mbaye, who leads a professional federation of artisan fishermen, believes these data services have brought significant benefits for fishermen, improving both safety and revenue from sales. 'It provides real-time data about prices on the beach and volumes. It will help us increase our efficiency, and the revenue from this sector.'

Issues and Lessons
The project faced a number of challenges at the beginning, which delayed piloting of the first data services until June 2003. These included delays by the local administration (e.g. to convince the meteorological office to share weather reports, and to develop a way of doing so); initial shortages of pre-pay SIM cards (supplied by Sonatel); language barriers between different ethnic groups (this has been addressed by creating graphic icons for different species of fish, suitable for use on WAP cell phones).

Key factors/issues, which have led to poverty reduction outcomes.
The project took time to involve a range of stakeholders: including government officers, fishing unions and telecommunications companies. The fishing unions (who can access data via a PC and dial-up modem from their office in Kayar) own the project, and want to use the fishing catch data collected to lobby for policies to prevent over-fishing in the region.

MANOBI Director Daniel Annerose comments that the comprehensive collection of data will help artisan fishermen in the future, especially as fish stocks are under increasing pressure from both local fishing, and from the large commercial vessels coming from Europe and other developed countries. It is the only detailed information that is publicly available, and can be used to help fishermen and their representatives present a strong case for protecting the natural resources on which the fishermen depend. 'Our platform can make this data available to government and the professional organisations who are managing this sector,' he says.

Future outlook
The programme is currently preparing the way for a national programme through the use of a steering committee. This committee will evaluate the experience of the pilot study in order to come up with recommendations for a nationwide scheme. Their evaluation will focus on: the economic impact of the access to market price information on the income of fishermen and wholesale fish merchants; the degree of diffusion and acceptability by the population of the ICT equipment; and will assess the potential of other services using the same technology, e.g. health, e-governance etc. The evaluation will also identify if there is sufficient fee-based demand so as to cover most of the investment costs and all of the operating costs of content development. MANOBI hope to persuade Sonatel to boost the coverage of the Kayar base station to an expected 70km radius using Alcatel equipment, significantly widening the area of coverage.
Stakeholder Consultation
  • Manobi web site:
  • Manobi Grant Agreement with infoDev, Aug 2002
  • Manobi Proposal Form for infoDev, Jan 2002
  • Interviews carried out by Mike Webb in August 2003 with:

    • Daniel Annerose, CEO MANOBI
    • David Boggio, Business Development, MANOBI
    • Adama Diop, Iba Diouf and Mar Mbaye, artisan fishermen
    • Diene Ndiaye, Fisheries Technician, Ministry of Fisheries
    • Abdel Kader Mboub, local consultant training artisan fishermen
    • Pape Mbaye, Bassirou Mbaye, Abdoulaye Diouf, Abdoulaye Diop: representatives of fishing unions
    • infoDev Task Manager, Paul Noumbaum

This publication is an output of a co-operation between Gamos Ltd and Big World for the distribution of practical research information.
This document is an output from a project funded by infoDev to provide brief, detailed descriptions of infoDev funded projects and their impact on poverty reduction. The views expressed are not necessarily those of infoDev.

For more information contact
Dr Simon Batchelor or Dr Nigel Scott
Gamos Ltd, Crown House, 231 Kings Road,
Reading, RG1 4LS, UK

Direct access

Manobi Senegal
All rights reserved © Company Manobi South Africa